They are going to die.
The wind is practically shattering his eardrums with what feels like icy, hypothermic rage and Leonard knows that death is probably imminent- that he is going to die on a frigid, ice planet with his idiot best friend in a snow crater. Leonard knows that his lips will be blue when someone finally digs their bodies out from under all the snow and ice.
Or they are going to be eaten by ice-monsters.
Hey, it's not like it hasn’t happened to Jim before. Not the death by ice planet thing but the marooned and chased by scary, scary ice monsters that totally want to eat him. Leonard is pretty sure one time stranded on an ice planet is enough for Jim. And if by any chance they find another Spock on this hell rock, Leonard is not responsible for his actions. Two Spocks are plenty, thank you very much Universe.
He yanks on his hood as a particularly violent gust of wind, layered with stinging chunks of ice, hits his face and almost knocks him off his feet. He feels like they've been walking for hours, their boots sinking into the snow up to their knees but it has probably only been twenty or thirty minutes. Not that he's complaining. He would but there is no way to see Jim ahead of him, let alone bitch at him for crashing them on this godforsaken ice hell. The sight thing had originally been the problem but they had fixed that with a piece of rope that Jim tied around his wrist and then fastened the other end to Leonard's because, obviously, Jim was making better progress over the snow drift ridden tundra.
Why? Because he took both the desert planet survival course and the ice planet survival course, he informed Leonard just after they crashed and made sure they were both alive. The smarmy bastard. That doesn't account for what they don't talk about; about the fact that Jim didn't need to take the classes because he already knew, about the tiny note in his medical file that had originally sent Leonard's head spinning and his heart aching. They don’t ever talk about it but it's there, hanging in the air between them and in the cracks of Jim's smile when there’s talk of Tarsus IV or starving children.
They're both dragging behind them makeshift sleds that they made out of the wreckage of the shuttle. Leonard, being the sneaky doctor that he is, managed to steal enough weight out of Jim's that it doesn’t do more than necessary harm to his already broken ribs and slight concussion, that is added to the general trauma a body goes through when in a shuttle crash. They were really lucky they didn't die in the crash. Well, Jim is lucky. Leo is just waiting for Captain Sunshine's luck to run out and end up with a pile of bones and a broken heart.
Snow, apparently, makes him maudlin. Go figure. It doesn't help that Leonard didn't want to go on this stupid exploratory mission to begin with. Not because he hates shuttle crafts, although he really honestly does and not because he doubted there were any more survivors since the climate launched into an unpredicted ice age, because he did doubt that anyone survived three weeks down here without much else but ice. Leonard didn't want to get into a shuttlecraft with Jim because space was going to be an issue. Space was always an issue but in a disease and darkness sort of way, which Jim can occasionally swing but usually Jim has an issue with staying in his own space and Leonard knew the issue was just going to be exacerbated when he found out that the large shuttlecraft was having some repairs done to it and that they were going to have to take the craft that could barely fit one person, let alone two.
Leonard prides himself on the fact that the only time he can't really control the slight issues that he might be in love with a man-child that is parading around as a captain is when they are in close proximity or when Jim is hurt. Other than those two circumstances, he's all grumpy-ol-southern-doctor with a sassy attitude problem. And it works. The ship moves and galaxies stay in the same spot they've occupied for a while and Leonard can handle that. He doesn't want to screw anything up. Because even if Jim wanted something more and permanent, Leonard knows they would screw it up. Royally. And Leonard does not want to end up serving on a Starbase in some distant quadrant just because he couldn't control his feelings and Jim couldn't think about something more substantial than his dick. They'd fuck it up. That's what he kept telling himself. That's what he was telling himself now, trekking through miles of barren, snow and ice to find something that looked like shelter before night fell and they froze to death. Leonard did not want to die on an ice planet.
The rope tying him to Jim, who couldn't be seen in the whirlwind of snow and ice that swirled around them like a very angry bunch of bees, turns sharply to the right. Leonard grumbles but tries to keep his mouth closed because he's pretty sure the saliva in his mouth would freeze if he left it open too long. After a few more steps, the rope slackens and Leonard frowns. If that asshole fell into a crevasse then he was surely going to die- alone.
Instead, after ten more steps Leonard runs into a white wall. He grunts and shuffles to his right until the walls gives way to an opening and he finds himself out of the blistering wind and in the cold and calm air of an ice cave. Relief floods him when he sees Jim, sitting down on a huge boulder of ice and grimacing.
"Hey, at least we didn't have to build an igloo," Jim coughs out. Leonard rolls his eyes as Jim coughs once more and passes out.
It takes Leonard at least ten minutes to figure out what they can burn and what they can't. He's sure Jim would only take one look at what they had and would just know, but Leonard's not sure that's a good thing. It doesn't seem to matter anyway since Jim is passed out from a combination of exertion and pain in their one thermal sleeping bag, the others conveniently perished in the shuttle fire when they landed. Leonard is convinced that the universe has it out for him and he wants to know, in explicit detail what he ever did to deserve such treatment.
Leonard passes the time by organizing all the things they carried from the shuttle into piles and thinking about how long they have before Spock realizes that all things that involve Jim eventually lead to trouble and somehow get them the fuck off this god-for-saken ice planet. A couple of hours, at least because of the shotty communication threw the storm but not much longer. Spock's an anal bastard when it comes to Jim on "exploratory" missions. Leonard has actually seen Sulu making air quote motions with his fingers when Jim or Spock speak in their code that usually has someone in his Sickbay or in the Brig by the end of the day. But with the storm still raging outside and the report Leonard looked at before they left, they could have up to two weeks of storms before it clears off enough to get them beamed back to the Enterprise- with all their organs inside their body, limbs attached and back where they both belong.
Building a fire takes a little longer than he would care to admit, mostly because the wind is strong and Leonard was never much of a boy scout but it's small and warm and he's thankful. He's mildly glad that Jim's passed out and not able to witness Leonard's struggle. It's a small favor but Leonard is still worried that Jim's fever hasn't gone down. He waits as long as he can stand before he pulls out his medkit and gets to work with their limited supplies. Luckily, he came much better prepared than any of the emergency kits on the shuttle (which he's surely going to bitch about when they get back) and so fixing Jim up is easier than expected. Leonard is careful to use their supplies sparingly, only because Jim was bound to get hurt again before they left and Leonard really, really doesn't like being ill prepared for Jim-like injuries.
Night falls fast and so does the temperature. Their parkas are heavy and warm enough but Leonard still shivers and his fingers revolt against him when he takes off his gloves to check Jim's temperature the old fashion way. Dinner is a half a ration bar and snow from outside. Leonard passes the time by moving Jim closer to the fire and watching the way the firelight dances off the white, white walls of the cave to play intricate patterns over Jim's peaceful face. Leonard is too tired to sleep himself, too tired and too damn cold to sleep and instead he stays up, running the tricorder over Jim's body and turning up the volume so he can hear Jim's heart beating, bouncing off the walls of the cave and echoing. It's a small comfort but it's something Leonard gives himself.
Jim wakes in the middle of the night with a sniffle that places his age at 4 years old and it makes Leonard disgusted at how cute and adorable Jim can be. He's a doctor, not a love sick teenager and cute or adorable shouldn't even be in his vocabulary.
"Hey Bones," Jim says sleepily with a voice deep and gravelly that goes straight to Leonard's groin. He practically glares at his cock through his pants. This is obviously, not the time.
"Want some water?" Leonard asks and shuffles over a bit to drag a handful of snow into Jim's mouth when he nods. He tries not to think about the warmth of Jim's chapped lips against his fingertips or the way that it turns his thoughts from Doctorly to completely inappropriate images of his commanding officer in mere seconds.
"What time is it?" Jim asks and tries to sit up. He fails with a tiny whimper and Leonard rolls his eyes for effect before he helps Jim into an upright position.
Jim makes a noncommittal noise and nods his head, his eyes staring at the fire while Leonard checks him over once more, the fever gone, the mild concussion still concussing but not too bad and the ribs all in their rightful place- for the most part. He can barely contain his sigh of relief.
"How long do you think we'll be down here?" Leonard asks and Jim frowns in concentration. It's adorable and Leonard kind of hates the way the fire lights up his face even more when it's animated than in sleep.
"Tops? A week," Jim says with a shrug and a small attempt at a smile. "I wouldn't doubt it if Spock isn't already down in Engineering annoying Scotty about getting through the storm."
Leonard nods when Jim turns his gaze away from the fire and towards Leonard. His eyes are bright and startlingly clear. It makes Leonard's belly squirm in ways that annoy him and remind him why small spaces weren't a good idea. There's a moment when Leonard can't break away and he lets himself stare at Jim, marvel at his sheer existence in a world that has tried its hardest to kick him out. Jim's a lucky bastard though. After a few moments, Leonard can feel the blush creep up his neck and he breaks away, searching for the other half of the ration bar. He finds it in a pile by a tin cup and he bustles over to Jim, keeping his eyes on other things.
"Here," Leonard says as he hands Jim a cup with snow and ice chips. "The snow's pretty clean but the ration bar is shit."
Jim makes a face that reminds Leonard of Joanna eating grits. It amazes him that there is a Georgian that doesn't like grits. He wonders idly if Jim would like them and his mind fills with images of Jim in the early Georgia sun, his hand wrapped around a cup of coffee and his eyes bright with laughter at a table Leonard used to eat breakfast with his wife. With that though, Leonard shakes his head and banishes the stray images.
Leonard pretends not to watch Jim as he scowls at the ration bar but eats it, chewing evenly and slowly. Leonard sees the tension in Jim's neck and thinks that a small batch of painkillers wouldn't be too bad. He rigs the hypo with a small dose just as Jim finishes the bar.
"Here, this is for the headache I know you have and for the fact that your ribs are throbbing. I can practically see them crying out in pain from here," Bones grumbles and scoots over towards Jim.
"Bones," Jim whines high and petulant. "Painkillers make me loopy."
Bones merely raises an eyebrow and presses the hypo to Jim's neck.
"Don't be such an infant. You'll be fine," Bones says with as much grumpiness as he can muster. He tries not to linger in Jim's space but Jim's like a black hole and Leonard can't seem to get out of his range. Finally, he manages to scoot back and settle again, his limbs stiff from sitting in the cold. He's staring into the fire, watching it cast shadows onto the walls. Jim is staring at him but Leonard is refusing to look his way.
"Bones," Jim says again and Leonard finally turns toward him.
"What is it, Jim?"
"You going to have to get into the sleeping bag. It's going to get colder tonight," Jim says with a tilt of his head.
"Don't worry about it. Take the bag, you need it if your fever goes back up," Leonard says with a dismissing wave of his hand. Jim needs to stay in that bag and rest for a bit.
"Bones, don't be stupid. We can share," he says casually enough that it seems like he's talking about doing laundry or something else utterly mundane. Leonard feels uncomfortable in his own skin as Jim starts to undress.
"What are you doing? Have you lost your goddamn mind?" Bones practically shrieks. Jim keeps removing his coat, struggling a bit as he tries to stay in the bag.
"If we share, our combined body heat will be warm enough that we can use some of our clothes for pillows. It's awesome," Jim says with glee like pillows at the greatest thing in the world right now.
"Jim-" Leonard starts but a sharp stare from Jim cuts him off.
"You're going to freeze, Bones. Get in the bag."
It takes a bit of shifting and a whole lot of blushing on Leonard's part, his mind repeating the fact that this is for survival only and that Jim didn't just invite him into his bed, but eventually they squeeze into the sleeping bag together. Leonard's coat goes underneath of them for another layer between them and the hard cave floor. Jim's coat ends up as their pillow. And of course, knowing Leonard's luck, Jim stuffs his shirt in the bottom of the bag to keep their feet warm.
"Perfect," Jim says when they get settled. Leonard nods and stares up at the ceiling, waiting patiently for some snow monster to grab him out of this stupid sleeping bag and put him out of his misery. It takes Jim three minutes of tossing and turning and sighing before he sits up.
"Bones, we're going to have to spoon. I can't sleep when you're like this!"
"Like what?" Bones grumbles and tries to press himself into the side of the bag and away from Jim's pale, naked shoulders.
"All tense and weird-like," Jim says with a random hand gesture. Leonard wants to say something, grumble or lecture but by that time Jim is just manhandling him into position.
Well, Leonard thinks when Jim finally has them where he wants them in what he deems as the most comfortable their going to get.
At least he gets to be the big spoon.
At least, that's what he was thinking about five minutes ago when he didn't realize that Jim smells amazing and that his skin is warm and smooth underneath Leonard’s hand that is pressing to his hip and that his even breathing is kind of erotic in a way Jim could only make it. Now, being the big spoon seems like a terrible idea because Jim’s not stupid and it’s hard not to notice when someone’s got an erection and they’re pressed up against you.
Leonard thinks he's gone and lost his damn mind.
"Yeah, Jim." Leonard tries to ignore the fact that he sounds a little breathless.
"Do you want to talk about the fact that your cock is totally hard and pressing into my back?"
Leonard curses in humiliation and tries to get as far away from Jim as he can but it's impossible and there is a lot of flailing which doesn't get him any further away from Jim. In fact, he feels pressed even tighter to Jim's body.
"Ow," Jim grumbles when Leonard accidentally nudges Jim's injured ribs. "Bones, chill out."
"Right," Bones says with disbelief and a tad bit of distain.
"Seriously," Jim mumbles as he settles back into the makeshift pillow and presses back into Leonard's arms, like he enjoys being this close together.
He gets a sigh for an answer. "Bones, if I wasn't so fucking tired I'd take care of Mr. Bones down there but I'm exhausted. Plus, I think your come would freeze if it hit the air."
Bones stares at the back of Jim's head.
"What?" Bones says and watches as his breath flutters the hairs on the back of Jim's neck. There isn't an answer for minutes and Leonard is honestly starting to think he just imagined that last five-minute exchange they just had. That is, until Jim sighs and grabs Leonard's hand and drags it to Jim's groin.
"See? I love you too, now will you please stop panicking so loud. Your thinking is keeping me awake," Jim says as he squeezes his hand around Leonard's which, in turn, massages Jim's clothed, half-hard cock.
"I'm tired," Jim whines and Leonard sighs.
"It's just the drugs talking," Leonard says, mostly to himself, but almost gets his nose broken by Jim turning suddenly in the bag. Leonard is immediately faced with the sharp, angry eyes of Captain James T. Kirk and an erection. His life sucks.
"Bones, we're not going to talk about this now because you'll think I'm only saying this because we're in a life threatening position and then you'll bitch about me having traumatic flashbacks from my childhood."
Leonard tries to say something but then Jim's mouth is on his mouth and it's chaste and smooth and utterly romantic, in the way that has Leonard trying to figure out if he’s supposed to be Isla or Rick. When Jim pulls away Leonard's mouth is still open.
"What was that?" Leonard asks.
"Promise or a declaration or something. I'm serious about this whole us stuff but I'd really like to talk about this at another time when we're not stuck on an ice planet and you don't think I'm drug induced or afraid of dying or whatever. Preferably sometime when we can have sex immediately after all the talking," Jim says and then he promptly closes his eyes.
Bones waits a few minutes, ready for Jim to continue or give him something more than that. Instead, Jim just entangles them more with his long legs and clinging arms. Leonard sighs.
"I hate you," he murmurs as he kisses Jim's forehead and relaxes into Jim's embrace, deciding that even if this is drug induced that he's not going to waste this opportunity to just enjoy the closeness, he can blame it on being cold tomorrow.
"Love you too, Bones," is the sleepy response that Leonard gets and they both fall asleep with goofy smiles on their faces.
When Spock finds them in the morning, he doesn’t say anything about their goofy smiles or the sleeping bag sharing or the handholding. He's a better man than Leonard has ever given him credit for.